It’s 20 degrees and snowing. A perfect day for a run.
For some of you, this may sound like crazy talk.
If running during the chilly winter months has you dreading your workout, you’re not alone. I’ve coached many runners who prefer to get their miles in during warmer weather, but have learned to enjoy the colder weather as well.
A change in perspective is helpful and may even have you looking forward to getting in a run on a snowy day. Rather than thinking negatively of a difficult run with freezing hands, imagine instead an easy run during a peaceful, snow globe-like day on a quiet street or trail. Having a different outlook will help you tremendously. And as long as you’re properly prepared, you will have an enjoyable run.
For some athletes, it helps to have company on a run. Running with friends, joining a club, or signing up for a race all help in this aspect. Having the accountability and someone waiting for you to show up will help you get out the door rather than hibernating all winter long.
An important thing to remember is that shorter daylight hours means you won’t be seen as easily while you’re out running. Wear reflective clothing and flashing lights so there won’t be any doubt as to where you are. Safety is always important, so be aware of your surroundings and don’t assume you will be seen.
Your winter runs don’t have to be frightful. The key is in being prepared. Follow these tips for more enjoyable winter running:
It’s important to dress appropriately for any season, but in the harsher, colder weather of winter it’s important to prevent windburn, frostbite, and hypothermia.
Dress in layers and wear technical clothing, which will draw sweat way from your body. This will keep you drier and more comfortable while you run. If you wear a cotton shirt as your first layer against your skin, it will hold on to sweat, keeping your skin wet. Wet skin will make you cold and uncomfortable.
Windproof jackets and thin gloves will also help keep you warm, and can be easily removed if you need to cool off.
While you’re getting dressed, don’t neglect any hotspots you tend to get. We all know how chafing and blisters can ruin any run, so check out our friends at SBR Sports for some great anti-chafing products.
Don’t Forget The Sunglasses
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the sun ain’t shining. Protect your eyes the same way you would in the summer. Sunblock can also be applied to any exposed skin if you plan on being out for an extended amount of time.
Remember To Warm-Up
Warm-up before your workout with a dynamic warm-up so that your body is prepared. During the winter months, consider doing your warm-up indoors so that you won’t be shivering as soon as you step outside.
Be Willing to Change Your Pace
The workout or pace you had planned may not be possible if the roads are snow covered. Use caution when the conditions aren’t ideal. If that means making it a slower run or taking walk breaks over particularly slippery spots, then that’s ok. Running on varied terrain will work your muscles differently, so even at a slower pace you can get in a good workout.
For some extra traction, wear trail running shoes or use a traction device like Yak Trax on your regular running shoes.
Some days just aren’t made for running outdoors because of the weather or temperature. And that’s OK. Use your best judgement and adjust your schedule when you need to. Runs can always be rescheduled for another day or be done on the treadmill.
If you have a choice between fresh snow is always better to run in than packed snow or ice.
Being flexible with your training is helpful. If you reschedule your run for another day, consider doing some strength training at home or cross train by participating in winter sports like snow shoeing or cross country skiing. These are great off-season alternatives that will not only help you stay fit, but will also help you improve for next season.
Bonus Winter Running Tips:
Racing in the Cold
Racing doesn’t just happen in the warm summer months. The winter months are a great time to get out and race. Just be sure to check a bag or leave a bag with a friend or family member that has warm dry clothes to change into after the race.
No matter what the temperature, remember to stay hydrated when you exercise and race. You may not feel as thirsty compared to hot days, but you can still become dehydrated on cold days.